HB 554 Assists Montanans Opposing Big Sky Country National Heritage Area
Montanans Opposing Big Sky Country National Heritage Area (BSCNHA) recognizes Governor Gianforte’s signing of House Bill 554 into law on Friday, May 14, 2021. HB 554 states that any designation by the US National Park Service, of a National Heritage Area that extends beyond federal land, requires the approval of the Montana legislature, prior to a Congressional Act. We also recognize Representative Josh Kassmier (Fort Benton) who initiated this legislation. Montanans Opposing BSCNHA testified in the House and Senate Hearings, supporting HB 554.
A groundswell of opposition to the currently proposed National Heritage Area began in July of 2020, by private property owners throughout Cascade and Chouteau counties. Private property owners then organized to gain resolutions from local, state and national groups. Within three months, 24 resolutions of non-support for BSCNHA were secured, in addition to thousands of individual signatures on the current petition to oppose.
In an effort to facilitate achieving BSCNHA, Inc’s goals and objectives, without federal designation, three Cascade County private property owners invited and met with BSCNHA, Inc’s executive board in October of 2020. After this bumpy meeting, two more invitations were extended and firmly declined by BSCNHA, Inc. BSCNHA, Inc. holds monthly meetings. However, the public is not allowed to participate in them, and the pursuit for an NHA designation continues. How does this serve Montanans who will be impacted? It does not.
Montanans are intelligent, proud, conscientious stewards of our own private properties. Many of us enhance our States culture and make our living from the private property we nurture. The current process by which National Heritage Area designations are established does not allow proper vetting, and is often accomplished without the knowledge or consent of private property owners within the boundary areas. We, the Montana private property owners, currently have no voice.
The private property owner, whose property is desired to be leveraged and whose money is desired to be encumbered by additional taxation, requires participation and representation.
HB 554 establishes a component of accountability to Montanans, by way of interjecting democracy into a currently, heavily undemocratic process. HB 554 supports correcting the current process of designation without representation by providing a component of accountability for the impacted private property owners of Montana, currently being ignored.
Learn more about Montanans Opposing BSCNHA by clicking here. https://www.facebook.com/montanansopposingbscnha
–Montanans Opposing Big Sky Country National Heritage Area
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